We loved when Elmo’s dad Louie got real about pandemic struggles and shared a message of solidarity with exhausted parents. And now he’s showing that, even on Sesame Street, parents need to talk about anti-Black racism with their kids.
CNN partnered with Sesame Street to produce a 60-minute special episode for families looking for guidance on how to talk about the worldwide protests, in age-appropriate ways, with kids. “Coming Together: Standing Up To Racism” aired on Saturday, featuring questions by kids, messages from beloved characters, mental wellness tips, and an appearance from 12-year-old gospel singer Keedron Bryant. Canadians can watch the full episode on CNN’s website.
Before the town hall portion, the episode kicked off with a segment featuring Elmo and his dad having an important conversation that likely mirrors what many families are doing.
“They look upset. Are the protestors sad?” Elmo asked his dad, referencing the people outside their window.
“They are sad and upset. And they have every right to be, Elmo,” Louie said. “People are upset because racism is a huge problem in our country.”
For many parents, it’s hard to figure out how much kids should learn about painful issues. But Louie shows how it’s possible to give kids context to the tensions they’re picking up on and to things they might be seeing in the news, without tip-toeing around the matter.
Elmo, at first, is confused by his dad’s definition of racism. In his own experience, all of his friends have different skin tones and are treated fairly. Kids watching might feel similarly about their own social circles and classrooms.
“I know, Elmo. But not all streets are like Sesame Street. On Sesame Street, we all love and respect one another,” Louie explained to his son. But across the country, people of colour ― especially in the Black community ― are being treated unfairly because of how they look, their culture, race, who they are. What we are seeing is people saying ‘enough is enough.’ They want to end racism.”
While he may be a fictional character, Louie provided a strong and easy-to-understand message that resonated with Twitter and made many wish others would follow his example.
They were just as moved by the protest sign Elmo created, inspired by their talk.
If a red furry Muppet can break down why racism is bad for his son, it’s clear that any parent can handle this conversation and lead their kids in the right direction. After their talk, Elmo shared what he’s taking away his father’s wisdom.
“Elmo wants to end racism too,” he announced. “Elmo wants everybody to be treated fairly.”